The Seattle Mariners 2016 season ended the same way every season has since 2001: out of the postseason. Yet, there was a massive upgrade from the dreadful 2015 season; they improved their record by ten wins and finished only three games from the playoffs. Seattle still boasted a top-five offense in the league. Apart from June and July, the pitching staff performed competently enough for playoff contention.
Seattle Mariners 2016 Season Recap
Cano, Cruz, Seager: The Power Trio
Few teams boast the power trio that Seattle presents every game. Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager are not only the most damaging producers for the Mariner attack, but also the most consistent performers.
For his standards, Cano had an abysmal 2015 season. It was his only season since 2009 where he didn’t make the All-Star team or finish top-ten in the MVP ballot. He produced his worst statistical season since 2008, and accumulated over 100 strikeouts for the first time in his career. Cano returned to elite form in 2016, with career highs in home runs (39) and total bases (349), and his highest hit total since 2012 (195).
Cruz had another outstanding offensive season, with a .287/.360/.550 slash and 43 home runs. He has lived up to his large contract, which lasts through 2018. Seattle will have to make a decision on whether they want Cruz as their designated hitter into his 40s.
Seager is the future for this Mariners offense. His stats have improved every season he’s been at third base. Seager’s rise has been concealed, not only by other established third baseman, but by his own family. Yet, his impact on Seattle’s lineup isn’t overshadowed. Going into his age-29 season, he should progress even more, establishing himself as one of the premier power bats in the American League.
Starting Rotation: Injuries and Inconsistencies
New General Manager Jerry DiPoto made several changes to the starting rotation before the 2016 season. Seattle acquired Nate Karns from the Tampa Bay Rays and Wade Miley from the Boston Red Sox. They also were able to keep Hisashi Iwakuma, after his free agent deal to the Dodgers fell through after a failed physical.
The Mariners rotation never showed any real progress in production. They lacked depth, as injuries consistently decimated the staff. Karns and James Paxton missed large amount of time, forcing waiver pick-ups to make large quantities of spot starts.
Iwakuma had a stable season after repeated injury-riddled campaigns, and Paxton produced a 2.80 FIP in the limited time he spent on the mound. Otherwise, the staff was mired in ineffective performances. Miley was a disaster in Seattle, forcing his trade to the Baltimore Orioles before the July deadline. Taijuan Walker never arrived at his full potential with Seattle, forcing his trade to the Arizona Diamondbacks shortly after the 2016 season.
However, the biggest disappointment of the staff was long-time ace Felix Hernandez. King Felix had the worst season of his storied career, pitching only 153.1 innings with 122 strikeouts, both career lows. Hernandez is now in his 30s, and is signed through 2019 with a team option for 2020. The question of how effective he is moving forward will be on the Mariners minds after his performance this season.